‘Half of this town’s population still is certain today that it saw space ships’: Recalling the Farmington Armada UFO incident

by Amanda Push

Virgil Jerry Riggs was just 8 years old in 1950, but the young boy became one of the witnesses to see hundreds of saucer-shaped objects appear in the sky over Farmington, New Mexico.

The mass sighting, later known as the Farmington Armada incident, took place as the young child played outside during recess at Aztec Elementary School. Riggs initially thought the objects were stars, but upon further inspection, he realized something far more strange was happening.

Sixty-five years later in 2015, Riggs, then 73 years old, recalled the story during a lecture by David Marler – a researcher of the Farmington Armada – according to KOAT Action News 7 of Albuquerque.

“All these square-looking formations in the sky. They were made up of dots, and the dots would shift from one formation to another,” Riggs said during a presentation at the New Mexico Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network. “The first day there were a few, the second day there were too many to count and the third day, there were maybe 30 or 40 of them left.”

One of the teachers cried as the discs hovered above, Riggs said. But, as disconcerting as the adults found it, he and the other children didn’t feel threatened.

“I was really disappointed when they went away. A bunch of kids (said), ‘Now what do we have to do? Go play on the slide?’” he said.

According to decades-old information, the story goes like this: For three days in March 1950, hundreds of flying saucer-like objects floated over Farmington. The Farmington Daily Times newspaper was flooded with calls from citizens who witnessed the UFOs. They ran a giant headline, which screamed, “Huge ‘Saucer’ Armada Jolts Farmington,” across the top of the paper in bold, all-caps letters. “Crafts Seen By Hundreds,” another headline read.

“Fully half of this town’s population still is certain today that it saw space ships or some strange aircraft — hundreds of them zooming through the skies yesterday. Estimates of the number ranged from ‘several’ to more that (sic) 500. Whatever they were, they caused a major sensation in this community, which lies only 110 air miles northwest of the huge Los Alamos Atomic installation.”

The article went on to claim that the objects, which one witness estimated to be about the size of a B-29 airplane, seemed “to play tag high in the air,” and raced across the sky at speeds estimated to be about 1,000 miles an hour.

Unfortunately, witnesses to the Farmington Armada are few and far between these days, and the incident has been dismissed with a number of stories. It was a naval research balloon that ruptured. Fluff produced by cotton trees. <Insert obvious government cover-up here.>

This eerie event does, however, beg the question, though, that with the proximity in timing and location to Aztec – only a little more than 15 miles away – was the Farmington Armada sighting related to the UFO crash landing outside of Aztec? It did, after all, occur almost exactly to the day two years before.

“It is interesting, and, you know, coincidental maybe. You know, they were two years and how many days – about eight days apart,” said Scott Ramsey who, along with his wife, Suzanne, and Frank Thayer, has researched the Aztec UFO crash for decades.

In their book, “The Aztec UFO Incident: The Case, Evidence, and Elaborate Cover-up of One of the Most Perplexing Crashes in History,” the authors speculate the Armada may have been a commemoration of the UFO that crashed near Aztec where all the occupants are believed to have died in the impact.

But who knows.

After statements from multiple witnesses, the Farmington Daily Times concluded its report with an assurance to the rest of the world that the residents of their small, northern New Mexico town hadn’t lost their minds due to the possible UFO presence.

“In general, Farmington accepted the phenomenon calmly, although it was reported some women employees of a laundry became somewhat panicky.”

Amanda Push


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